A Perfect Cup of Tea

January 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

There may be nothing like a cup of something warm after a trek through the snow.  And if you spend more than an hour with me you will surely discover my affection for hot drinks.  Namely the species of steeped bliss we call tea.  A luxurious cup of Earl Grey is my current love as it is silky and rich while still leaving a refreshingly caffeinated murmur.  Although I have had a little affair and just reveled in a lovely cup of white vanilla grapefruit.  I would like to share some secrets of infusing a simple cup of hot water with some dried out ground up powder into a ritual of bringing a daily dose of delight into your life.

For starters, it is best to get out of the habit of relying on supermarket ‘Lipton’ teas shake.  These are the lowest grade tea possible and are hardly passable as a blissful tea.  Once you expose yourself to the glory of a real cup of tea, steeped with whole leaves, you may find yourself wondering how so many people are able to drink their stale, flat, and bland daily spot of tea.

There are many, quite convenient ways to find real tea.  Most shopping malls will have a tea shop; Teavana for example has a nice collection and their staff is always helpful.  Another option is Wegmans.  They actually have a large stash hidden between the cheese counter and the organic bulk nuts.  Although, surprise, surprise, I choose to acquire my blends from local vendors.  Pure Blend shows up at my farmers markets doling out their hand blended teas and spices.  I was quite infatuated with the pumpkin chai for a while, and the homemade komucha, a fermented tea containing everything which is good for you, is something sent straight from the Gods.  Similarly, Mrs. Robinsons Tea Shop in Kennett Square has an immense collection of teas; herbal, caffeinated, decaffeinated, fruity blends, and all the tea paraphernalia you could desire.  I could spend entirely too long sticking my nose into cups of the samples.  Enough about the vendors.

 

Making tea is an ancient art form.  I have discovered that the process should not be rushed.  If you are going to rush through the procedure as you would making a cup of coffee, you might as well drink Lipton, or coffee (clearly I am biased).  Take the 10 minutes and enjoy the simplicity of rewarding yourself with a cup of ecstasy.

Fun Fact:  All true tea leaves comes from the same plant.  True teas are black, oolong, green and white.  The difference is when the tea leaves are harvested.  As the tea is harvested younger it brews lighter i.e. black vs white.  Consequentially black tea is rich and heavily caffeinated, while white tea is airy and contains almost no caffeine.  In the morning I like to wake up to a cup of something bright and radient so I opt for lighter white or green teas. When afternoon rolls around and my mind is beginning to lag I steep some gorgeous and awakening Earl Grey spiked with notes of bergamot and citrus.

A Perfect Cup of Tea.
This will steep enough for two small cups of tea, enough for one to linger with a book or two friends to share over laughs.

Warm up a 16 oz teapot simply by filling it with hot water from the tap and allow to sit while you prepare everything else.  This ensure that the pot is hot and won’t cool the water off when you steep the tea.

Heat 16 oz (2 cups) of water.  Different teas require different water temperatures:

Green Tea 160 degrees F 1 – 3 minutes
White Tea 180 degrees F 4 – 8 minutes
Oolong Tea 190 degrees F 1 – 8 minutes
Black Tea Rolling Boil 3 – 5 minutes
Herbal (tisanes) Rolling Boil 5 – 8 minutes

Add 2 teaspoons of beautiful tea leaves to the filter or diffuser.  Similarly, you can use a loose tea bag found at any well stocked tea shop, with 1 teaspoon of loose leaves.

When the water is at the right temperature pour it over the leaves.

Cover the teapot and allow it to steep for the correct time.  Refer to the chart above.

While the tea is steeping add a sweetener or cream or nut milk (for black teas only) of your choice to your tea cup(s).  I always choose honey.  Nothing else.

After 1- 8 minutes remove the filter but save the leaves.  They can be steeped again, up to 3 times.

Pour your gorgeous brew into the prepared cup.

Sit. Sip. And enjoy.

Drink Happily.

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